2024. 6. 27.

Press release

Union Mobile's 'AngkorChat' Aims to Become Cambodia's National Messenger

Union Mobile's 'AngkorChat' Aims to Become Cambodia's National Messenger

Union Mobile's subsidiary, Digital Angkor (DA), is developing a mobile messenger called 'AngkorChat.' Union Mobile has ambitious plans to establish 'AngkorChat' as Cambodia's national messenger.

As the importance of messengers rises amid the potential takeover of Naver's Line Messenger, which boasts a high market share in Japan and Southeast Asia, by Japanese entities, a domestic company actively pursuing the messenger business overseas is drawing attention. Union Mobile, a domestic IT company developing 'AngkorChat' through its subsidiary Digital Angkor (DA), has boldly announced its ambition to establish itself as Cambodia's national messenger. Union Mobile plans to evolve 'AngkorChat,' currently in its soft launch phase, into a versatile mobile platform by adding features such as gaming, OTT (over-the-top) services, delivery, and payment functions to its messenger service. In May, DailyGame visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to meet Oh Ju-won, the head of Union Mobile's branch, and learn detailed information about the 'AngkorChat' project. Oh Ju-won explained the background of 'AngkorChat's' development: "In Cambodia, due to the lack of advanced development capabilities, most people use foreign apps for messaging. Telegram and WhatsApp are commonly used, but Telegram's monetization has caused inconvenience for users. Additionally, many foreign messengers lack adequate support for the Khmer language. 'AngkorChat' aims to approach Cambodian users with perfect language support," he said.

<Photo 1> Emoticons introduced in 'AngkorChat.' Union Mobile plans to expand into the character business in the future.

Oh Ju-won said, "In terms of service sustainability, I believe 'AngkorChat' has a strong advantage. Global IT companies sometimes block access to their services from Cambodian IPs due to security concerns, which can cause significant inconvenience for users relying on foreign messengers. 'AngkorChat,' which involves the Cambodian government, does not have such concerns," he added.

The name "Angkor" holds significant symbolism in Cambodia. "Angkor," meaning "dynasty" in Khmer, is widely known through "Angkor Wat," a must-visit tourist destination before one dies. Due to its strong symbolism, it is difficult to use the name commercially. Regarding this, Oh Ju-won explained, "We were able to use the name 'Angkor' because we are closely collaborating with the Cambodian government on the 'AngkorChat' project. The name 'Angkor' itself is considered a trustworthy name in Cambodia."

'AngkorChat' is not only familiar by name to Cambodians. It also uses cute characters of animals familiar to Cambodians for marketing purposes. Union Mobile plans to develop a character business similar to 'Kakao Friends' in the future.

However, it is not easy to say that 'AngkorChat' can compete with existing global messenger giants just because of familiar language and characters. If the functional aspects are not supported, many users are likely to continue using the messengers they are accustomed to. Union Mobile aims to compete by adding perfect language support and various services to the basics of a messenger app. Oh Ju-won stated, "In Cambodia, many users do not know English well. Some cannot understand even simple English menus in games and play by memorizing positions. 'AngkorChat' enhances user convenience with perfect Khmer language support and solid basics as a messenger. It supports not only text messages but also voice messages and voice talk functions. The call quality is comparable to competing products. We plan to secure competitiveness by adding various services."

<Photo 2> Oh Ju-won, head of Union Mobile's Cambodia branch. He has been a local expert in Cambodia since settling there in 2000. He plays a significant role in Union Mobile's local business, including the 'AngkorChat' project.

Oh Ju-won describes the "various services" as encompassing everything. They plan to integrate gaming, OTT, food delivery services, banking, and payment services into 'AngkorChat.' It is true that for a new project with a small user base, the scope is worryingly broad. Union Mobile intends to offer these various services within 'AngkorChat' through appropriate partnerships. Oh Ju-won said, "We will handle what we can directly, but we are open to partnerships if there are good partners. We are already in discussions with domestic companies in the gaming and delivery service sectors and considering partnerships with local startups."

He added, "Especially in gaming, I want to introduce good Korean games to Cambodia through 'AngkorChat.' In Cambodia, expenditure on cultural content is relatively high compared to the income level. I believe that with localization efforts and active marketing, there is ample potential. I want to work with good Korean developers."

Despite the potential of Union Mobile's 'AngkorChat,' there is still a long way to go. It has been about a year since the soft launch, yet it remains in the soft launch stage rather than a full release. Oh Ju-won explained, "This is the time to solidify the service. We are focusing on stabilizing the messenger app and developing various features. We are also planning marketing strategies. We are planning to integrate the voting system of Korean audition programs into a local beauty pageant in Cambodia, reflecting a certain percentage of the votes. We have signed an MOU with the beauty pageant organization. Voting will be conducted through our 'AngkorChat.' Considering the high interest in beauty pageants locally, this will greatly help in expanding 'AngkorChat' users."

Overtaking global giants like Telegram and WhatsApp to become Cambodia's national messenger is certainly not an easy task. It may even seem like an impossible mission. It remains to be seen whether Union Mobile's ambitious challenge will bear fruit.